Cat scratch disease (Causes, Symptoms, Diagnostics, Treatment, and Prophylaxis )


Cat Scratch Disease (Felines) is an acute infectious disease that develops after ingestion of the Bartonella bacterium. Its hosts are pets – dogs, cats, rodents, and monkeys. In fact, that’s where the name of the disease came from – felines, translated from Latin – cat. In addition to the above-mentioned animals, the source of infection can also be birds – their feathers and claws, small splinters, etc.

When an infection enters the human body, regional lymph nodes are inflamed, accompanied by fever and intoxication, as well as primary affect, at the exact location where the agent was introduced.

Cat scratches are more common in children and diagnosed than in adults. Medical practice has not proved the possibility of transmitting the infection from a sick person to a healthy one. The rate of infection remains stable throughout the year. A slightly larger increase is recorded in autumn-winter. This is due to the fact that rodents settle closer to human housing.



The bacteria-causative agent enters the human body through the skin, scratched by animals, mucous membranes, in rare cases – through the conjunctiva, airways, gastrointestinal tract.

A few days later, a dense papula develops in the damaged area, in some cases, it is removed and covered with a crust. The bacterium enters the regional lymph nodes from the site of the injury by the leaf pathways. This is where the active reproduction of a pathogen occurs, with the release of a toxin. As a result, adenitis – inflammation of the lymph nodes – develops.

Without adequate treatment, the lymphatic barrier can break, resulting in CNS, liver, spleen, other organs, and systems. Changes are detected in the lymph nodes, which lie in close proximity to the site of infection. Both a single lymph node and a group of lymph nodes may be affected.

Infected lymph nodes increase in size, they are moderately dense, and they are paired with each other. During the autopsy, the tissue is dark red, homogeneous, or with the addition of sections of necrosis, melting, which depends on the stage of the process. Over time, microabscesses can spread to the entire node as well as the surrounding fiber. The result is an inflammatory conglomerate, which is subsequently melted. In the case of severe forms of the disease, the granulomatous process also occurs in other organs – brain, lungs, liver, bones, and other organs, which causes the development of dangerous diseases such as encephalitis, hepatitis, osteomyelitis, etc.


The incubation period lasts from 10 to 30 days, and less often – 2 months. The benign lymphatic acid, as the disease is called, begins acutely. Symptoms of cat scratch disease: the body temperature rises sharply to 38-39° C, slight malaise is observed, regional lymph nodes or group of lymph nodes increases.

The lymph nodes in the armpits, the neck, and, less often, the groin, the thighs, under the jaw are the most affected.

Sometimes the adenitis is localized in unusual places – in front of the ear sink, under or above the clavicle.

The size of the affected lymph nodes is as high as the size of a hen’s egg, less frequently as an orange. They are slow-moving and painful to the touch. Cat scratches are recognized by the increase in lymph nodes.

Adenitis is often the only symptom at the initial stage of the disease, but at the peak of the disease, most patients have a fever, muscle, and headaches, worsened appetite. In some cases, intestinal dysfunction, skin rashes resembling measles or scarlet fever occur. It is important that lymphadenitis occurs much later than the primary effect, and the latter may be completely absent at the peak of the disease.

There are atypical forms of the disease – angioma, glandular, abdominal, cerebral, pulmonary, etc. The clinical manifestations in such cases correspond to the focal point of infection – encephalitis, pneumonia, angina, mezadnitis, etc.

The disease lasts for three months or more. In some cases, relapses with repeated nagging.



The disease is diagnosed on the basis of a primary effect, which is detected at the site of a bite or scratch of an animal, the presence of pronounced symptoms, and a change in blood composition.

They take an intradermal sample to confirm the diagnosis. If there is an agent, it will be positive for 3-5 days from the onset of the disease and even after many years.


In the treatment of cat scratches, the patient receives mainly symptomatic treatment.

Uncomplicated forms of the disease are treated for 10-14 days with erythromycin (0.5 g 4 times a day), pre-Sicilian (0.1 g 2 times a day), and ciprofloxacin (0.5 g 2 times a day). Alternatively, tetracycline, azithromycin, ofloxacin, chloramphenicol may be used. However, these drugs are not always effective.

Symptomatic drugs, antihistamines, and vitamins are also prescribed. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs – Voltaren, indomethacin – may also be used.

The area of infected lymph nodes is subjected to physiotherapy methods – diathermia, UHF. In particularly severe cases, a short course (up to 7 days) of corticosteroids is prescribed. In the case of swelling, the pus is removed from the softened lymph node by cutting or puncture.

With timely and adequate treatment, the prognosis for treatment is favorable. The gradual recovery of the patient and sclerosis of the affected lymph node.

To date, no specific prevention methods have been developed. The main safety measures are to avoid bites and scrapes of cats.



You have to go to your doctor to treat cat scratches. If you’re not sure about the diagnosis, you need to schedule an appointment with a doctor or general practitioner to clarify the diagnosis. Your health is important. You have to keep it.


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